Written and Photographed by Doreen Dawkins
Edited by Kyra Dawkins
After leaving a swim lesson at the Aquatic Center, which shares a parking lot with Thompson Recreation Center, I saw what appeared to be a man and a child boxing. Since I am nosey by nature and I needed subjects for a photography project, I went into the gym . I tried to wait for a break in the action, but it seemed like every few minutes they were starting to box again. I interrupted and said, “Excuse me, but do you think I could take some pictures for a class that I am taking at Columbus State?” Before he could answer. I said, “Hey you look a lot like Buster Douglas.”
He put a big smile on his face and said, “Yep, I should.”
Before I could catch myself, I said, “I remember when you knocked out Mike Tyson. I was at a house party. I think I threw a chicken wing across the room”
He started laughing.
I said, “So, what about the pictures? ” He said, “Sure.”
Then I started asking about the boxing program, “So is this a closed class for young men?”
He said, “No. It’s for everybody. Ages 5 to 90. Matter of fact, what about you.?”
To be honest, I had never considered it. But being the competitor that I am, I inquired , “So what is the cost?”
“$20 a quarter.”
Since I figured it would increase my chances of getting some good shots, I paid the $20.
Then he said, “So, when should I expect you back?”
I was trying to stall. “Ummm... don’t I need to buy some equipment”?
He said, “Nope, just wear some workout clothes and tennis shoes. ”
First Day of Training
Coach Douglas assumes that new trainees are not already in shape, which is good thing for most people. I, on the other hand, thought it was an insult (remember I’m highly competitive) when he put me on the treadmill on level 1 with no incline with instructions to walk for a half and hour if I could. I said, “Ummm... sure, ” and politely bumped it up to incline level 3 and speed 3.5.
Next he told me to jump rope for 3 rounds. Ummm, ladies, can I suggest that this is not the time nor the place for a regular sports bra and especially not any other type of bra. If you plan to jump rope, please do yourself a favor and wear an extra support sports bra. After only jumping rope for the 3 rounds, I thought my heart was going to jump out my chest and they were going to have to pry me off the ground to get me in the ambulance.
After that , Coach wrapped my hands with the community hand wraps. Coach Douglas will tell you that he washes the wraps on a regular basis. From a female who is considered “nice nasty,” I will admit that this was the only time I ever used the community wraps. In my opinion, it is well worth the few dollars to buy your own pair. I caught a sale at the local Title boxing club for $5 a pair. Learning how to properly wrap your own hands not only helps to avoid injury but will also save time in the gym since you will avoid waiting for Coach to stop training someone else to wrap your hands.
I envisioned myself doing the bicycle and floating like a butterfly and sting like a bee, just like Muhammad Ali, after one session. Actually, when Coach Douglas showed me the correct stance and way to throw the different punches, I didn’t last half a round. I stumbled out the ring and I knew I did just enough to bring my camera to take pictures never to return to train again. When I started gathering my stuff Coach asked , “So when should I expect to see you again to train?”
That was almost two years ago.
Other gym regulars who contribute to the family/team atmosphere
The boxing program at Thompson Rec Center has become an integral component of my life. Past the physical benefits (reduced stress, lower blood pressure, feeling better, dropping a few pounds, etc.), the family atmosphere produces a sense of belonging. The other gym regulars who contribute to the family/team atmosphere are:
Bryan, a mentor/father figure, who spends time in the gym and outside activities with the young men.
Ahmed, the encourager, who makes it a point to meet everyone in the gym, give boxing pointers, and will hold the mitts when coach Douglas is not available.
* Darnel, the honest and painfully blunt one, who will tell a boxer to their face that they are sorry, pitiful, and would get beat up by a female. This may not be popular, but in a time where children are given equal playing time and trophies regardless of skill level, I find Darnel refreshing.
* Me, the mature lady trash talker. That is, if I have built up a rapport, if not I will make a face and keep moving.
* The cameo appearances from retired professional boxers (Jerry Page, Bill Douglas, etc.).
In my opinion, many are looking for a place that they can have a workout, have good time and be accepted. The boxing program at Thompson Rec Center is one of those places.
Here’s my mature lady opinion of the boxing experience at Thompson Rec
No matter your fitness/boxing goals, it is the best overall workout experience for any amount of money (let alone $20 per quarter)! I’m telling you Thompson Rec is the place to be!
For booking inquiries (James Douglas) contact John Russell 330-701-3379.